After freak-outs and backpedaling, Microsoft has revised its stance on the so-called “hacks” of the Kinect. Wired’s Tim Carmody reported on Monday that Microsoft seems to have indicated that it won’t be taking legal action against anyone who has found new and “unsupported” uses for the Kinect. Shannon Loftis and Alex Kipman—two Microsofties involved in the creation of the Kinect—were featured on NPR’s Science Friday and when asked if anyone would “get in trouble” for their Kinect creations, they responded with “No” and “Nope, absolutely not” respectively.
This is a refreshing change of course from Redmond. Embracing your most enthusiastic fans and harnessing their creative power for the betterment of your product certainly makes a heck of a lot more sense than prosecuting those folks under the DMCA.
To be fair, Carmody notes that Microsoft had reason to hold off on taking this stance immediately. Microsoft wanted to verify that the Kinect was being used as-is, as opposed to anything in the XBOX 360 being modified. This is incredibly important, because, as Carmody succinctly notes:
If Kinect’s whole-room camera, robust facial-recognition software, and portal for video and audio chat are seen as insecure, it’s a nightmare.
Too true. Microsoft’s sensitivity on the topic is easy to understand when this massive security concern is taken into consideration. However, it seemed evident from the get-go that all of these “hacks” had nothing to do with hijacking the XBOX’s software for the Kinect, but rather simply plugging the hardware it into another device entirely—namely a PC running Windows or Linux.
So, kudos to Microsoft on sorting out their feelings when it comes to the Kinect. Too bad they had to do so in public.